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How Sex Works

How Sex Works

Written by Dr. Sharon Moalem

Narrated by Oliver Wyman


How Sex Works

Written by Dr. Sharon Moalem

Narrated by Oliver Wyman

ratings:
4/5 (15 ratings)
Length:
8 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Apr 28, 2009
ISBN:
9780061768705
Format:
Audiobook

Description

"Read this book and discover sex again, but from a scientific perspective, and see why it evolved. It's almost as much fun, and needs less energy."
- Peter Macinnis, author of 100 Discoveries: The Greatest Breakthroughs in History

"How Sex Works manages to inject science writing with the prurient thrill of a gossip rag."
-O magazine

Medical maverick and New York Times bestselling author of Survival of the Sickest Dr. Sharon Moalem presents an insightful and engaging voyage through the surprising history and evolution of sexual reproduction. Fans of Freakonomics, Blink, You: The Owner's Manual, and Why Do Men Have Nipples will find many engaging insights in How Sex Works.

Publisher:
Released:
Apr 28, 2009
ISBN:
9780061768705
Format:
Audiobook

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Reviews

What people think about How Sex Works

3.9
15 ratings / 7 Reviews
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Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (1/5)
    It rambles on and on. Not a good listen, I don’t recommend it.
  • (5/5)
    Super interesting book. Packed with information that will blow your mind.
  • (5/5)
    Plenty of good information. Contains plenty of detail about the sexes and reproduction.
  • (3/5)
    Birds do it, bees do it, but why do humans do it? In this wide-ranging look at the evolutionary reasons for sex, physiologist and evolutionary biologist Moalem says that it's all about shuffling the gene pool and getting rid of any unwelcome guests, such as viruses, that may have latched onto human DNA. But why is one particular person attracted to another? Moalem relays the latest research showing that smell plays a very important role in attraction, and that even our genes may influence one's smell, and thus a person's desirability, to others. Scientists have found that women tend to be attracted to different types of men at different points in their ovulation cycles (dark and handsome hunks at their height; sensitive, care-giving types at other times). Moalem (Survival of the Sickest) whizzes through his discussion of homosexuality, neglecting angles that would have added to the book, but readers will find thought-provoking material in his chapter on differences in sexual anatomy and on how chromosomes and body parts aren't always what we expect them to be. Moalem writes fluidly for the general reader, and when he necessarily goes into graphic detail, he does it gracefully.
  • (4/5)
    And here I was hoping it would be more like a guidebook. Author Sharon Moalem (who is a he, despite the name) has written what could be considered an update to Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask. There a lot more evolutionary psychology and biology than there was in EYAWTKASBWATA, though. Moalem isn’t presenting his own research, but reviewing studies from a lot of other authors. Full of interesting little results (the age of puberty in girls depends on the amount of hip fat; the first self-service items in American drug stores were menstrual pads (supposedly because women were too embarrassed to ask a male clerk for them, and then leading to a lot of other self-service items); there are at least 20 different theories attempting to explain female orgasm) but also more detailed discussions of things like intersex conditions. I noticed a couple of things that bear on previous reviews.
    Potential evolutionary explanations for male homosexuality: It seems that one study showed female relatives of gay men had more offspring than average women. The authors suggests – not quite so bluntly – that there was a heritable factor that made carriers want to have lots of sex with men – regardless of the carrier’s gender. That could at least partially explain the evolutionary puzzle of homosexuality; there are enough females with the allele to overwhelm nonbreeding male carriers. Could be; other explanations possible.
    Athletes with intersex conditions. Moalem lists a couple of examples:
    Indian runner Santhi Soundarajan’s was disqualified in 2006 for having (according to anonymous rumor) “more Y chromosomes than allowed”. Moalem doesn’t have further details but notes that Soundarajan had passed many previous sex determination tests. He speculates that the previous tests were limited to physical genital inspection, and that Soundarajan has Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. An earlier (1985) case was Spanish hurdler Maria José Martinez-Patiño, who turned out to have Y chromosomes and AIS. Interestingly, it isn’t clear if AIS would necessarily give you an advantage in women’s athletic competitions; there’s enough variety in expression that AIS people range from externally indistinguishable from 46XX women to externally indistinguishable from 46XY men (despite all having 46XY karotypes).
    In a chapter on The Pill, Moalem notes that it has an interesting effect on women’s odor preferences. Studies where women sniffed used men’s clothing (usually called “t-shirt” studies) found that women preferred the scent of men whose immune system genetics differed from their own (the evolutionary idea here being that women would seek mates in “outgroups” rather than among their own group, to avoid inbreeding). Women on The Pill, OTOH, preferred the scent of men with similar immune system profiles. The authors of this study suggested that being on The Pill is essentially fooling the body into thinking you’re pregnant. Women who aren’t pregnant therefore prefer “exotic” men, while pregnant women prefer “familiar” (and therefore presumably “safe” and “protective”) men. Could be, but a lot of evolutionary psychology excruciatingly difficult to prove conclusively. At any rate, I don’t think there’s been a tremendous increase in first cousin marriages since The Pill.
    Not bad for a reasonably technical discussion of a lot of aspects of sex and gender. Interestingly, my copy was deacquisitioned by the Denver Public Library even though it was only three years old. Too controversial?
  • (2/5)
    Terribly written and disorganized. The book is full of scattered 'facts' and speculation. While some of the information is interesting (and practical), the overall presentation is very poor.
  • (4/5)
    I was very surprised by how much information is in this book. The author, Dr. Moalem does not dwell on one topic for long. Because of this, the book kept my interest. Some of the information shocked me (not in a bad way, just I never heard of it), and I was so surprised I looked it up the internet to confirm (or deny) his research.